Music director Betsy Burleigh has steered The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh's 120 vocalists to appearances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and at the Library of Congress, venturing beyond their patron composer to other choral treasures. Mozart composed the soaring strains of his unfinished Great Mass in C Minor as an expression of thanks for the recovery from illness of his wife, who then sang the starring first-soprano part at its premiere. The work's occasional lightness of tone and operatic trills may come as a surprise to those with more solemn conceptions of liturgical music, though the opening Kyrie sets a tumultuous storm brewing with its use of the full chorus and solo for strobe light.
Guests take their seats inside the grandiose Carnegie Music Hall, a space lauded for providing superb acoustics for chamber music and a challenging venue for games of Marco Polo. The venue is tucked inside the same building as the dinosaur bones and European masterworks of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Founded in hopes of bringing about a revival of the American brass band, River City Brass aims to share the uniquely joyous art form with audiences across Pennsylvania. And for the past 30-odd years, the group has done just that. River City Brass’s 28-piece ensemble—some of whom have been members since the early ’80s—play more than 50 concerts annually. Their programs span continents and centuries, with every performance bringing a new showcase of styles. Modern music, classical pieces, big-band jazz, and show tunes have all passed through RCB’s bright cornets, chortling tubas, and crisp percussion.